Czarina Nighttarius Elena N’Ever stepped into the Grand Czar Tacarius Maruchan N’Ever’s negotiation room with a slight sense of unease. Although the room was meant to appear neutral and inviting, it seemed to mock the very proceedings it was designed to accommodate. Crimson tapestries and tablecloths hung in thick extravagant folds of velvet, adorned with golden rope and oversized decorative tassels. On a small table, also elaborately decorated, sat the royal crown of the Grand Czar upon a pillow so plush that she doubted even her grandfather’s head was granted such luxury.
Her grandfather stood in the room, waiting patiently for her to join him, his elegant hand poised thoughtfully over the conference button. “Nighttarius, punctuality is perfection.” She offered a sweet smile and stood next to him; feeling slightly underdressed for what was supposed to be a casual talk with a foreign politician they didn’t care in the least bit about. His black military jacket was freshly pressed and the golden sash clung perfectly to his chest. Medals from various battles, awarded to him by the people, were gleaming in the lights as if brand new. She noted the cape around his shoulders had a soft white fur lining and she shuddered to think what poor animal had to sacrifice its pelt for the sake of fashion. Although he was well into his eighties, Tacarius didn’t appear to be a day over forty, an enviable perk of the Shadow Walker lifespan.
“With a minute to spare, Grandfather.. . I doubt even you can object.” Her father would have rebuked her for such a smart comment, but her grandfather smiled coyly, “if it were your brother I would deafen him with objections, however, the Flower of Perusa is permitted to keep me waiting. Within reason.” Nighttarius smiled, her twin Napparius would throw a fit if he could hear the informal way she was allowed to converse with their grandfather. She would most certainly have to inform him.
She drew back her shoulders and straightened up slowly, the casually plunging neckline of the pale blue gown was offset beautifully with black lace which she knew matched the shade of her hair perfectly. The dress rested at the edge of her shoulders, offering full appreciation of the golden adornment around her neck. The large ballroom skirt and dainty white ruffles in the front gave her the image of a quiet and sweet tempered doll. It wasn’t a fair impression to give to such an impressionable country, considering she had formed the plan of conquest herself.
President Mafiffyr Corva appeared on the screen, a towering giant of gargantuan proportions. His flesh was a light pale and his mouth spread into a massive grin revealing the large square teeth, which she suspected had been perfected through cosmetic surgery. His faded mousy brown hair had been combed but it still jutted out at odd angles. She even found fault with his eyes, a deep amber color which reminded her of old honey which had sat too long upon a shelf. “Grand Czar Tacarius, I didn’t realize we would have the pleasure of your beautiful daughter with us today.”
Tacarius’ lower lip twitched slightly, a sign Nighttarius knew well as suppressed irritation. Nothing displeased him more than a political leader who didn’t research his opponents, whether they gave intentions of an alley or foe. “Nighttarius is my granddaughter, President Corva although I thank you for the generous compliment.” Night lowered face just slightly and stared up at the President through long lashes, “the pleasure is all my President Corva.” He offered another misshapen smile and spread his oversized hands in a gesture she suspected was intended to be welcoming, “I hope we don’t proceed too quickly for you little lady. I know womenfolk often get confused by such lengthy matters.”
Tacarius quickly put a hand on his granddaughter’s arm; he could feel her anger starting to simmer at the arrogance before them. She chose instead to address her grandfather through telekinesis. [I’m killing him first.] Tacarius suppressed a laugh and offered in return [you’re a royal, we don’t kill, we execute.] She smiled pleasantly at the President and said with a sickeningly sweet voice, “I will try my best to keep up President Corva.” The President nodded, “well I have sent you my plans to invade Swiland. It is my belief that the combined force of our two nations will quickly put an end to those proud Dragnairs.”
Swiland, a fortified nightmare, was gifted with unlimited resources and a military prowess by the hand of Queen Emmalina and King Amicus. They were ruthless when it came to invading forces, more importantly; they were invaluable allies to the country of Perusa. Their family had come to resemble an almost extended branch of the Perusian royal family. Nighttarius had come to love the dark soil and brilliant orange trees of their sister country almost as much as her own country’s picturesque landscape.
Tacarius paled, “President Corva, I do not think you realize the extent of our relations with Swiland. Even if we did not share such a close brotherly bond with the country, your proposed attack would be futile against their military tactics. They are highly trained marksmen battling against your minutemen.” The President smiled, “I assumed that would be your largest complaint. It was only a problem back in your day Tacarius; we know how to kill Dragnairs now.”
Nighttarius could hold back her rage no longer, “I do not think you fully understand the scope of consequence for your actions, sir! Swiland is a neutral country; if it were to be attacked its aggressor would be punished by every Shadow Walker from the international community with even half an inch of honor. They are a safe haven for refugees from international strife. If you succeed in your attack it will only be to die by the hands of assassins out to avenge the blood of the Corvinas Royal family.”
The President laughed, “I already have five major nations in compliance with this proposal. Perhaps you should stop relying on fantasy notions of unity, Czarina. Grand Czar Tacarius, you have forty eight hours to decide.” The video conference ended abruptly and for a moment a flicker of worry was evident upon Tacarius’ face. He opened the folder and studied the contents closely for a moment before looking to his granddaughter. “His five major nations are all human; I do believe they’re attempting to spark a revolution.” Nighttarius looked bewildered at her grandfather, “we are the most powerful telekinetic Shadow Walker family in the international community. Why would we side with a bunch of arrogant humans?”
Tacarius laughed, “I do believe that idiot believes we are human. Shimmer to Antanya, Swiland and inform the royal family. I am counting on you to lead the counter attack against these nations. Take this list with you; take care I have a feeling more than a few traitors linger in the Swiland borders.” Night paused, “are you sure it is wise to place me in command considering the circumstances, Grandfather?” Tacarius pulled her into a warm embrace, “with your ascension, no force on earth or in the heavens will be able to stop you. Protect the royal family, do not leave Swiland until we can guarantee their safety.”
Nighttarius nodded and kissed Tacarius’ hand affectionately, “before I go, check our lab. I have a present waiting for you; it could be the answer to our prayers.” He nodded curtly and she mentally centered her mind upon the Royal castle in Antanya, Swiland. Shimmering came much more naturally to her than it did her twin, she shifted through space as easily as if she were floating. Her sibling struggled with the process as miserably as if he were trying to run in water. Her skin grew cold and her nerves tingled pleasantly as she shimmered into the throne room before Amicus and Emmalina. Amicus frowned slightly, “Nighttarius? Should you be shimmering in your current state?”
She shrugged, “it’s actually easier now, with the ascension and all. I’m afraid this is not a leisure visit, however. I have some rather… troublesome news.” The King and Queen traded concerned looks, “it’s actually good you came to us Nighttarius. Our youngest Nikolai has disappeared. We fear the worst. We were just about to send for you actually." Nighttarius forgot momentarily about her news, Nikolai had been a childhood playmate, closer than even her siblings. "Then my news is worse than I foresaw. President Corva is planning a full-scale invasion of your country. he has with him five allied human nations. They claim they know the secret to killing a Dragnair as well. Grandfather sent me to protect your family, I am not to leave until we can guarantee the safekeeping of all members. I will meditate and I swear to you I will find him, upon my family's honor."
"There is no need, Nighttarius." Nighttarius whipped around to find Natalya, Nikolai's twin, easily holding Nikolai in her arms her face a mutation of rage. Nighttarius could feel everyone's hearts slow as they stared at the wounded prince, the light cuts fanning out across his arms, face, and chest in a morbid spiderweb of misfortune. She also knew they undoubtedly had the same horrified question running through their minds, ' why wasn't he healing?' Every shadow walker, regardless of species, was gifted with advanced healing which healed wounds almost as fast as they could be dealt. Nikolai's wounds still gushed freely, his blood streamed freely into pools on the floor. "My baby!" Emmalina gasped and rushed to his side, "what could do this to my sweet baby?"
Nighttarius knelt by Nikolai and held his hand, focusing upon him, his cuts and ailments quickly registered in her mind. She cursed her slower aptitude for healing, the Medik abilities were ones she still fumbled with like a toddler. His blood was tainted by a foreign source, a poison which stubbornly refused to flow from his system naturally. She focused upon that and brought it out through the cuts and then sealed the cuts, her forehead already felt damp with the effort. She struggled to listen to a impulse to rip through the healing, knowing fully well that rushing such a job would only cause more damage.
They stared at the silvery which had pooled beneath Nikolai as a servant carried him to his quarters. Nighttarius felt her heart sink, her precious gift to Tacarius had the same consistency and shade to it. Yet if Nikolai was poisoned with it, since she had created it, only her grandfather was to blame. She reached down at touched a pool of it and instantly regretted the decision. Her fingers burned as if lit with fire and she felt the quick paralysis of start to grip her, the pain was excruciating yet binding. It dripped from her fingers and she gasped and backed away, the King and Queen's faces darkened with furthered concern. "What is it?"
"It's pure liquid silver, I honestly don't know how they did it. I didn't think it was possible."